This is the deepest and most sustainably structured Calgary Flames team we have seen put together and deployed in well over a decade. This Flames team is special in the sense that no matter the situation, they’ve consistently been defying expectations with their on-ice play, both with and without the lead. To state it simply, this team plays with the sole purpose of looking to not just register two points in the standings, but continuously outscore their opponents by large margins.
Calgary’s 5v5 unblocked shot rates by score
Courtesy of HockeyViz.com, the chart above shows Calgary’s unblocked shot rates. The top half is the shots their offence, the bottom is their defence. The areas represented in red signify the regions where a team’s shot share generates above the league’s average standard & the darker the shade the more excess the team’s shot volume.
The areas depicted in blue, represent the regions in which a team generates less than the league’s average shot rate and the darker the shade, the greater the defensive suppression against the opposition, ultimately indicative of the lack of high-danger shots against that are allowed. The areas you notice in white, signify the regions in which a team ultimately generates shots at the league’s average rate.
These metrics essentially maintain the statement that no matter the situation the Flames find themselves in, their only goal each and every night is to shoot and continue to get pucks on net as well as maintaining a pretty nice shutdown game in all of these situations.
This is not only a sign of Sutter hockey and a sign of a very well coached team playing under a system that is elite but it is also a testament to the players on the ice, they simply don’t stop trying and they’re here to win.
Calgary’s high shot share in 5v5 situations is clearly seen to be driven by their ability as a team to generate lots of shots to the front of the net and in the slot. An honourable mention should be granted to this team’s active defence corps, most notably inside tie-game situations, although they’re evidently very active in all situations and play a huge part in leading the rush. The Flames generate a solid frequency of high-danger point shots from their active defence corps in situations when they’re chasing the game (ie: down by 2, down by 1) and actively try to funnel pucks from the point especially in tight tie-game scenarios.
To reiterate these points as a collective whole, the Flames essentially have no desire to lay back in the offensive zone and focus on just purely defending in order to push for overtime. This team plays nearly the same style no matter the situation and it’s indicative of a complete buy-in from every facet of the roster. They constantly funnel pucks to the net, check hard and effectively suppress their opposition.
Potential first round playoff matchup comparable
Currently, the Nashville Predators are looking like the Flames’ potential first round opponents. How would they stack up? For the Flames, the holistic shade of red in all score situations indicates that their high-quality shot share is well above league average. Nashville doesn’t share the same prowess. Their play is more typical of most NHL teams—push for more offence when down, take the foot off the gas when up.
To make the comparison easier, here are each team’s offensive and defensive zone expected goal rates side-by-side. Remember, for expected goals for, positive is good; for expected goals against, negative is good.
|Game scoring situation||CGY xGF%||NSH xGF%|
|Down 3 or more||+65.1||+40.9|
|Down 2||+ 8.4||+5.4|
|Up 3 or more||+22.1||-7.1|
|Game scoring situation||CGY xGA%||NSH xGA%|
|Down 3 or more||-37.0||+20.5|
|Up 3 or more||-26.1||-8.2|
With the Flames, they are relentless on whether leading or trailing, but the same thing can’t be said about the Predators in comparison. The Flames’ only real weakness is when they are down by two goals, they tend to give up more chances to their opponents.
Inversely, the Predators have several weaknesses in this regard, as they tend to keel off when they’re up. Nashville’s tendency to potentially let the game get away from them, especially when they’re up by two, is something the Flames haven’t needed to worry about all year. Coincidentally, the one situation the Flames are below-average in, the Predators are quite good when down by two goals, a situation the Flames aren’t as good in.
A tsunami of offence
In conclusion, the Calgary Flames have been a team that have defied scoring effects, and have made it very difficult for their opponents to get back into games once they score first. When they’re trailing, expect them to give it their best shot at tying the game up again. Their tenacity in every possible situation of the game is a strategy that has been both effective and sustainable, which in turn has made them a serious contender. Here’s to hoping their regular season performance translates over to this year’s postseason.
Ahead of tonight’s contest, the bookies have predicted a Flames underdog, with Betway Sports pricing the Calgary Flames at -160 and the Edmonton Oilers at -110 to win the game in regulation, with an overtime decision being priced at +330.